July 22, 2015 by John Bracken and Jennifer Preston
“Your elected representatives at all levels are no better or worse than you deserve,” said Jack Knight in 1946. “It is depressing to hear citizens say they’re too busy for politics and then express disgust at the outcome of an election. Just who is supposed to make that fight for them?”
At Knight Foundation, we care about ensuring that citizens have access to the news and information they need to participate fully in democracy. One of the tools we have is the Knight News Challenge; over the last eight years we’ve invested $50 million in more than 130 projects that experiment with new ways of producing and sharing information as our traditional methods have been disrupted.
We see access to quality information as a public good. The importance is demonstrated each year when we as citizens go to the polls to elect our leaders. However, we have consistently seen growing disinterest in elections, especially at the local level. That’s why earlier this year we decided to make elections the theme of this current News Challenge, posing the question, How might we better inform voters and increase civic participation before, during and after elections?
Today we’re awarding a total of $3.2 million to the 22 winners. We’ve gathered them in Austin, Texas, where the Annette Strauss Institute of Civic Life at the University of Texas is hosting the conference “Breaking Through: Increasing Civic Participation Before, During and After Elections (you can watch via live stream).